There I was serving a very nice man and his young son. They ordered wings and allowed me to guide them to the best sauce choices and side options. This is usually a good sign. If you can suggest people a few sauces they like, they will generally be happy with everything else and tip you well. I think this is because it shows both a level of knowledge and a high level of service. It's like going the extra mile even though it's easy as anything.
Anyway, I'd done everything well as the two enjoyed their meal and they seemed to notice. They were happy and appreciative and a nice 15-20% tip seemed within my reach. I was sailing in smooth waters as I ran a tub of dishes to the back. And that's how long it took for it all go downhill right into a steaming pile of shit.
Returning the empty tub to the wait station, I noticed a woman and two young girls were now standing around the table as the boy and his father finished the last of their wings. I went to the table to offer drinks to the new guests and was immediately shot with an icy stare.
Mom: "Oh no, we don't want anything here. We just had Johnny Carino's. But the boys HAD to have wings."
Naturally all that was said in a tone that screamed, "I can't believe I'm standing in a Hooters and I feel dirty just being here." Great. Regardless of my frozen reception, I put on my best smile and was as nice as possible. Of course Mom hated my existence so much that my kindness was totally unnoticed. I could have been Mother Theresa reincarnated and she would have hated everything about me.
I tried to not let it bother me and did a fairly good job until I saw Mom whip out her credit card. Wonderful. The woman who had no idea what sort of service I gave and hated Hooters was paying. I was effing screwed. Even with the impending doom of not getting what I had worked so hard for I continued to be nice as I took her card.
Sauce: "I hope you three enjoyed your lunch over at Carino's!"
Mom: "Ugh it was awful. Just not what I expected. They changed one of their sauces and didn't even tell me. Plus the service was horrible. Just awful - the whole entire thing. "
Wonderful. Not only did this lady hate me, she was a woman who had just had a bad lunch and hated me. Even the slightest hope of a good tip all but disappeared. I couldn't do anything but run the card and make a few last ditch attempts at niceties.
But it didn't matter. Of course that credit card receipt had a big fat nothing in the tip line. And it wasn't just no tip, she'd taken the time to make one of those big, obvious strikethrough zeros. She'd made it entirely and painfully obvious that I deserved nothing in her eyes.
While I never feel like I deserve a tip - it is a matter of personal discretion after all - I was pissed off. Not only had I lost out on a tip because of a dislike of Hooters, but I had probably also lost out based on the poor service at another restaurant. It was a double whammy of total suckage.
Hey, Johnny Carino's, step up your game over there!